Women's History Month Profile: Andee Gerhardt
Director, Talent Development Leader
Recently, EA Creative collaborated with a member of Chief, Sandhya Jain-Patel, for a round of questions with women in leadership positions who are making history today.
Sandhya Jain-Patel: What was a defining moment in your career which has led to your current industry or role?
Andee Gerhardt: My current role allows me to focus most of my time on the types of work that gives me energy and when I took it, I knew that creating this space for myself would be possible. It is important to me to be in a role that allows me to use my strengths and then leverage the strengths of others to enable us to succeed collectively. My career path has been incredibly winding and yet this current role brings together all of my previous training, experience and interests. It allows me to be a great manager (learned on my first job), focus on connecting the dots across systems (master’s degree training) and develop others through coaching and training. It’s one of those roles where everything falls into place.
Sandhya: When was a time in your career where it was clear that being a woman made your job more difficult? Are there any times it was easier?
Andee: Working in a large organization which is committed to equity, the more senior I get, the more it is apparent that my genuine voice, which has always been assertive and decisive, is not always appreciated, it is seen as a challenge. I’m not sure if this is about gender or communication style. The messages (received in regard to communication) to adapt my style, and that it is my responsibility to figure out how to be heard, have been constant over the years. The same messages would rarely be said of men who are also assertive and decisive – for them it is rewarded. As a woman who leads teams of women and coaches women – I have an advantage of empathy and a strong desire to empower others to show up as their authentic selves, to ask questions, advocate, and have a seat at the table.
Sandhya: Have you had a mentor or sponsor who has helped you in your career? Have you been able to do the same for someone else?
Andee: My current sponsor has been able to get me a seat at the table and will defend me when needed. He has consistently shown trust in me and appreciation for what I bring to the organization.
I mentor several people and sponsor several others. I get them exposure and experiences to help them grow toward the future they want. I also make sure to give credit always to others and make sure their contributions are seen and felt.
Sandhya: Who is a historic or living woman who has inspired you?
Andee: My mother is my biggest inspiration. In the 70’s as a single mother of two young kids, she became the editor of a newspaper, when women didn’t hold those types of jobs - she made it seem so normal. It was not until I was in college that I realized how extraordinary that was. She broke down barriers and made sure I knew that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.
Sandhya: Is there something you would say to your younger self?
Andee: Be ready for a rollercoaster of a ride and choose to enjoy it. It’s going to be wild and at times very scary and sad, yet the big picture is phenomenal.
(The interview was completed before the pandemic - we followed up with a few more questions on how everyone is currently coping.)
Sandhya: How is the pandemic affecting your work and daily routine?
Andee: I seem to be working longer hours and helping people to manage between reactions and responses. My team members are all dealing with different personal needs and living/working situations so we are doing a lot of communicating! We are all in fight or flight so the flurry of work as we try to gain some control of something is quite unprecedented. The core work is moving forward although more slowly.
Sandhya: As difficult as it is, has the isolation and social distancing had any unexpected benefits?
Andee: I'm an extrovert so it's really hard to not interact on a regular basis. Zoom calls with family all over the country have been a riot and seeing my colleagues on video more regularly is really nice. I've also had some time to do some art work and refocus on fitness (yoga specifically).
Sandhya: Are there specific ways you have focused on staying positive throughout this temporary new reality?
Andee: I'm doing yoga and meditating daily and eating really well. I have to walk the dog, so I do get out and walk three times a day and that mostly helps.
To learn more about Andee and keep up with her projects, follow the links below.